Environmental issues reach flashing red stage; coordinated action is needed now

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Collaboration between consumers, government, and industries is key to acting on climate change. Take krill, for example.

Photo: Penguins taken by Hong Kong photographer Lina Wong.

Dr. Winnie Tang

Adjunct Professor, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Architecture, University of Hong Kong

The United Nations has recently published a study written by 400 experts from 50 countries, mentioning that human activities, such as industrial farming, fishing, and use of petrochemical energy, will drive nearly one million species of plants and animals to extinction in a few decades. This biological extinction rate is thousands of times faster than 10 million years ago.

In her new book, Lina Wong, a local photographer, describes how polar animals, including emperor penguins, polar bears and harp seals struggle to survive under global warming. Her research is accompanied by her professional photography.

Human survival is in turn threatened due to reduced biodiversity. How can we balance the interest of human society against the conservation and restoration of natural ecology? The joint effort of consumers, industry, and the government will be required to deliver high impact sustainable action. One example of such a collaboration revolves around krill.

Fill up on the krill sup

In the polar regions, there is one basic food for many animals such as penguins, whales, and seals. It is the pink Antarctic krill, which looks similar to shrimp although they are not of the same species. Adult humpback whales eat two meals a day, and they can consume one metric ton of krill per meal. In other words, krill is the linchpin of the Antarctic food chain.

In recent years, krill has been touted as a healthy food in Western countries, making it very popular. It is said that krill is nutritious and has a magical effect, which has increased people’s demand for krill.

Don’t kill the krill (everywhere)

In order to give endangered species that depend on krill a chance at survival, we need the joint effort of consumers, industry, and the government. Apart from raising awareness among the general public about the harm their consumption behaviour would do to animals and nature, pressuring the authorities to take action is also essential. Fortunately, after years of negotiations, the fishing industries reached a formal agreement last year. They agreed to stop their krill trawling operations in the surrounding waters of the penguin colony. According to the National Geographic, these companies include Aker BioMarine, the world’s largest krill fishing company originating from Norway. They even committed to set up a network of protected areas to help with the conservation of marine animals.

Environmental protection is a pressing issue. Through coordinated action, we can have a real impact to save endangered species and the environments they live in.

Printer: R&R Publishing Limited, Suite 705, 7F, Cheong K. Building, 84-86 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong